While our cats may bring us gifts they love (we may not want to show others), and our dogs occasionally bring us soggy tennis balls and other interesting things, we humans love sharing the gift-giving fun of the holidays with our pets. Here are some DIY crafts, toys, and pet treats you can make for your dog or cat that shows they’ve been noticed as being a good boy or girl by Santa Paws!
Gingerbread Cookie Cat Toys
Gingerbread cookie toys filled with catnip are Christmas cookies that make cats as giddy as the non-furry kids, and are simple to make, trace, cut, fill, and sew using felt, various sewing trim, and fresh catnip. Draw a cookie or print it online and make a simple stuffed toy for your cat! You can also make Hanukkah or Kwanzaa candle toys or any other seasonal shape you desire!
Yogurt Dog Treat Recipe
Peanut butter yogurt frozen hearts capture the crisp cool air and the deliciousness of creating a favorite pup blizzard treat. While a frozen peanut butter-filled Kong is a known trick for dog owners, you can also make frozen yogurt treats with peanut butter in a heart-shaped ice cube or candy/chocolate mold to give your dog a holiday treat
Plain Greek yogurt
Pet-safe peanut butter
A heart-shaped ice tray
- Heat the peanut butter in the microwave until softened.
- Spoon a small amount of peanut butter into each tray section and allow to dollop or add more to create a thick opaque peanut butter layer.
- Take a spoon and fill each tray section with yogurt, just on top of the peanut butter. Feel free to swirl the two together, in order to create a different final appearance for each treat.
- Press yogurt into the mold to make sure the mold is packed. Tap the tray gently and firmly to encourage the yogurt to settle and prevent air bubbles.
- Clean-up molds and place the tray in the freezer for 4 hours or longer.
- Serve as single-serving treats for a frosty-nosed pup, or drizzle with honey or your favorite syrup for a protein-rich human treat!
Peanut Butter Pumpkin Dog Treats
Make holiday cookies especially for your dog by baking them some Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats.
2 cups whole wheat flour (can substitute other types of flour)
1 cup oats
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup pumpkin
1 cup of water
Use a mixing bowl to combine and mix all the ingredients well. Place dough into a ball and refrigerate overnight or at least 4-5 hours to firm up. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to 1/2“ thick and use cookie cutters in bone or holiday shapes to cut out cookies. You can brush cookies with egg wash for glossy cookies. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool before serving.
Cats love the cozy comfort of a hammock! You can make a hammock of any size or shape, but many cats prefer a rectangular hammock. You can also use two layers of different or double-patterned fabric to create a reversible hammock to allow the kitty bedding to match better with your décor.
The best fabrics to use for cat hammocks are sturdy, durable ones that, of course, can support a cat’s weight. Denim pant legs can be recycled, or, use indoor/outdoor fabric for the layer which is seen and use old, washed wool blankets and terry cloth towels for the underside to make long-lasting and easily cleaned cat hammocks. Make sure the fabric is machine washable and soft, so it’s perfect for a cat. Cats are absolutely fine if it doesn’t match the blinds! Other supplies you’ll need are thread, scissors, and a medium-weight sewing machine needle in your sewing machine to puncture and stitch the two layers together. You can also pick up used mattress pads from thrift shops to pad and fill the hammock layers. Polypro webbing is ideal for edging and creating corner straps. For each hammock, you need a total of 60″ in length (4 sections cut at 15″ each). Use a lighter to melt the edges of the webbing to prevent fraying after cutting.
For a hammock, start with choosing the fabric and cut two equally-sized fabric pieces to make either the large or the small/medium hammock. Cut an equal-sized piece of padding from your soon-to-be-upcycled mattress pad. (Sizes to cut: 27″ x 17 1/2″ for Large or 22″ x 13 1/2″ for Small/Medium)
Decide which of the two main fabric pieces you want to attach the edging straps to. Take a 15″ length of webbing, fold in half, pin the open ends together catty-corner to one of the four corners of the rectangular piece. Be sure to place the folded middle section of the strap inside the fabric piece. (This is important as we need it to be enclosed inside when we sew the layers together in the next step.) Sew straight back and forth multiple times to reinforce the strap and repeat this stitching on all four corners.
Layer 1- Place this fabric face side up (this piece will already have the sewn straps in the corners facing up). Place the folded straps in the fabric sandwich.
Layer 2- Place upside down on top of Layer 1, and ensure the pattern is table-side down and facing away from you.
Layer 3- The padding
Pin all layers together.
Start sewing halfway along one of the longer sides of the rectangle and leave a 6-7-inch opening for turning “inside out” (right-side out so the padding is inside!) when the layers are sewn together. Sew straight stitch seams, 5/8 inches from the edge. Larger seams help these hammocks be more durable and hold up to frequent use and washings. When you sew the corners, swivel the sewing foot to encase the corner strap on the diagonal to attach all layers. Continue sewing around all four corners. Insert your hand into the hammock and turn right side out, so the fabric sandwiches the padding. Pull straps into place. Stitch the edge closed by hand or using a machine. The poly webbing loops are easily hung in cat crates using carabiners by attaching them with large heavy key rings or even quality metal shower hooks. You can also attach the webbing to windowsills and other furnishings making a solid base for the hammock that can support your cats’ weight evenly.
Small Pet Tunnel Toy
Bunny, cat and small mammal tunnel toys can be crafted or upcycled as well! You can create a hideout/tunnel by using pop-up circular laundry hampers made with common dollar store items.
Pop-Up laundry hamper/sorting bin
While the mesh pop-up circular hampers can work as play tunnels for small humans and cats, a pet bunny or a small mammal needs a solid one to prevent their delicate claws from getting caught. Plus, solid fabric non-mesh laundry hampers in polyester have a smooth soft surface and being so cheap, they are easily replaced. To keep a pet cool in the warmer months, place a frozen bottle of water inside the tunnel and keep away from direct sunlight if using it outside in a small pet playpen. Just cut the bottom out without cutting the bottom seam and do not cut the toggles at the bottom either, so you can use them to tie together through the toggles, and tuck one end into the other if connecting two or more. Tucking the tunnel edges also keeps small mammals and rabbits from gnawing on them. Simply compress and use a Velcro cable tie to keep it compressed for storing away.
Dog and Cat Fabric Toys
A t-shirt tennis ball comet toy, a braided tug of war toy, or cat teaser toy are all simple to make and use “yarn” made by recycling t-shirts. Cut t-shirts into varied strips from hem to collar to create long colorful strips and place in a lingerie bag or in the washer to allow fabric to curl up into yarn you can use for various crafts. For dogs that enjoy tearing fabrics up, this may not be a great idea to play with unattended, but most dogs love these for tug of war.
The comet tennis ball toy just requires a tennis ball and recycled strips cut from t-shirts. Cut open the tennis ball and make a “comet tail” of various t-shirt strips and then tie the strips into a knot that is big enough to fill the tennis ball. Use hot glue on the inside of the seam to seal the tail in and play fetch using the tail to throw the tennis ball or provide a new twist on an old tennis ball.
You can also make braided toys using various long fabric strips and create a big soft chew toy or a more delicate cat teaser by simply taking t-shirt strips and creating braids, weaving them like a friendship bracelet, or whatever your ambition and skill level at braiding allows. Tie strips together to make longer strips or create long strips by cutting rings across a flat folded T-shirt and then cutting them along one seam. A dozen 3-feet long strands, once braided, make a great chew toy for a big dog. Use shorter ones for smaller dogs and cats.
Pet Ball Pit
A ball pit is a fun, special holiday gift that also allows you to get some adorable pet pictures for your social media! Start with a firm-walled or inflatable kiddie pool or a container deep enough to give your dog or chill cat room to romp, and buy plastic balls used in kiddie ball pits from a wholesaler or online retailer. Buy enough balls to create a pet-scale ball pit, throw their favorite toys and treats in and let your pet have more than just a ball, but fun playing with lots of them!